Fire Safety in Rented Houses
Under the Housing Act 2004, a new way for Local Housing
Authorities to assess housing conditions has been introduced. This
replaces the old ‘unfitness’ standard. It looks at the effect that
deficiencies in the home can have on the health and safety of
occupants and visitors by using a risk assessment approach called
the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). The aim of
individual risk assessment is to reduce or eliminate hazards to
health and safety in domestic accommodation.
Potentially there are 29 hazards and each hazard is assessed
separately and rated according to how serious likelihood of harm.
For the first time the hazard of ‘Fire’ has been recognised as
applying across all tenures. This change has brought housing
enforcement powers into line with modern Building Regulations which
has recognised mains operated smoke detection as the minimum
standard for all new houses or new conversions since 1991.
The risk assessment calculates hazards bands which are then ranked
as category 1 or 2 hazards. Category 1 hazards trigger action by
the Local Housing Authority and will result in enforcement action,
depending on the nature of the hazard and the works required.
Emergency action may need to be taken.
Fire safety is assessed according to certain risk factors:
- Number of storeys
- Travel distance from farthest point in the house
to the final exit
- Number of occupiers
- Type of occupation
- Layout of house
- Current structural fire precautions already
- Current detection/alarm systems provided.
For high risk houses the Fire Safety Officer (Bedfordshire and
Luton Fire and Rescue Service) is consulted on each case to ensure
the risk assessment and any proposed works are designed to make the
house and the occupants as safe as possible. The Fire Safety
Officer works closely with the housing enforcement team to identify
and take action on rented houses where fire safety precautions are
dangerous or below standard.
Emergency measures can include -
Prohibition of all or part of the property which
results in the closure of the property; Emergency fire
safety works to help occupiers stay put until more
permanent works are done.
If more general works are required, but
occupiers are not in imminent danger, then Improvement Notices are
served which set out the works to be done and the appropriate
timescale. Landlords who are improving vacant property or buying
property for renting can get advice from the housing team on what
measures are suitable for their individual property.
Bedford Borough Council and Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue
Service have produced a comprehensive guidance document. It is
aimed at both specifiers and landlords with emphasis on both the
social sector (housing associations) and private
here to download the Fire Safety Standards Document
The government website https://www.gov.uk contains useful
guidance on fire related matters including guides in a variety of
It is important for tenants to be instructed in the action to be
taken in the event of fire. A suitable fire safety notice
is shown below.
here to download the Fire Notice
Copies can be printed out and should be displayed in a prominent
position on each landing level of the staircase and also fixed to
the inside face of each bedroom door.
The Council has also developed specifications and guidance on fire
doors, alarm systems and testing. These documents are aimed
at landlords, builders, electricians and specifiers.
here to download the Fire Alarm Grade D Spec
here to download the Fire Alarm Grade A Spec
here to download the Fire Alarm Testing document
here to download the Fire Door Spec Document
If you are concerned that your house does not have the right fire
safety measures for the category of house and/or occupiers please
contact the housing team to arrange for an inspection and advice on
the works required.
Housing team - 01234 718099